A driver from Carmarthenshire in Wales has been warned he could be jailed after attempting to shake off a pursuing police officer by activating a James Bond-style smoke screen he’d fitted in his car. Simon Chaplin, 62, flicked a switch on the dashboard of his red Peugeot 309 and “colossal” amounts of smoke billowed from the exhaust pipe, a court heard. Police constable Dafydd Campbell Birch only caught up five miles later when Chaplin turned into a farmyard, Swansea Crown Court was told. Chaplin had a bucket of diesel behind the passenger seat connected to a pump with a pipe leading into the exhaust.
At the flick of the switch diesel was dripped into the hot exhaust pipe to produce clouds of smoke.
Chaplin was convicted of causing a danger to other road users by deliberately causing smoke to be emitted.
Pc Campbell Birch said he wanted to stop the Peugeot because its number plate was “DE JURE”, which “didn’t look right.”
He turned around on the B4329 near Haverfordwest and was met by clouds of smoke as Chaplin accelerated away.
The officer followed Chaplin through country lanes and villages – sometimes only by using the smoke because he couldn’t actually see the Peugeot.
He said: “There was a vast amount of dense smoke coming out the back. It completely obscured the road.
“I had to slow down and keep a distance. At times I came to an almost complete stop due to the smoke. I had to look across the top of hedgerows to see where he had gone.
For a while I couldn’t see the car but in the distance I could see smoke going up a hill towards the village of Crundale. I caught up with him but the smoke kept coming thick and fast.”
Pc Campbell Birch cornered Chaplin in the farmyard.
Chaplin claimed to the jury that on January 19, six days before the incident, he was attacked by police officers who dragged him out of his mechanical digger and knocked his head on the ground several times.
He said they later drove him to Withybush Hospital, Haverfordwest, where they put him inside an ambulance.
After being treated he was placed back into police custody but returned to hospital by the officers when he became unwell.
Chaplin said he saw Pc Birch activate a flashing blue light “but sort of panicked” and feared “he was going to be beaten up again”.
The defendant said the car and the smoke-making “contraption” belonged to another man.
He said the smoke machine was designed to get rid of moles.
James Hartson, prosecuting, pointed out moles lived underground but Chaplin said that during normal usage a pipe would be connected to the end of the exhaust and pushed into molehills.
Chaplin, of Parc y Delyn Uchaf, Hebron, near Whitland , Carmarthenshire , will be sentenced at a later date and was granted bail though Recorder Elwen Evans QC warned him he may be jailed.